48" x 48" Oil On Board
Taking an almost feline form, the woman featured in It Was Worth The Fight has a bright yellow face and a split nose which allows the face to be read from multiple viewpoints. Partially matching the orientation of her head, she split in her nose also matches a profile rendering which suggests movement and a state of transition or change. With red eyes and bright red lips, there is somewhat of a lioness quality, a certain fierceness which the woman exudes. She exerts her focus directly out at the viewer, but it is ambiguous as to whether her eyes are wholly red or if she has closed her eyes and is rather in a place in which she can be inspected by the viewer, seemingly then in a state of fatigue. Framed by spiralling red and white swirls which encircle her hair in a frenzy of kinetic energy, there is both an ecstatic and exhaustive quality to her presence. Like other works in Ryan’s oeuvre, It Was Worth The Fight has references to iconographic forms of classic Americana, as evidenced by her stylishly short haircut with curled up ends which was popular amongst women in the 1960s. Additionally, her bright red lip is the central focus of the composition and is associated as a classic beauty practice and means of drawing attention to oneself, and further highlighting one’s sexuality and a sense of femininity. While this work is alluring and potentially even anxious or seductive, the title offers an underlying reading, one that includes darker intentions. Indicating a fight that had happened before the portrait was drawn, the title frames the understanding for the work to suggest a certain level of stress and anger which is matched with the high amount of red used, a color associated with rage, blood and passion. In light of recent discussions being intensified surroundings women’s rights, both politically and socially, and the outpouring of support and dialogue around the #MeToo Movement, It Was Worth The Fight is also a reminder for the power of continuing to fight. Even when met with adversity and strife, women have progressed immensely since the the 1960s but still have a great deal of work which can and should be done to push forward in the fight.